There is no doubt that the current political crisis in Thailand reflects competition over elite access to the spoils of office, high levels of official corruption and a class division between the country’s urban and rural poor and the urban middle and upper classes. But what is not discussed, even though it has been at the centre of “yellow shirt” calls for political change, is the future role of Thailand’s monarchy.
This subject has not been raised as to do so is commit lese majeste — offence against royal dignity — which is a crime regularly punished by imprisonment. In 2012, a former commodities trader who said online that Thailand’s now 86-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s ill health was responsible for a decline in the sharemarket was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. Foreigners have also been jailed in Thailand for lese majeste.